Not long ago I wrote about movies that were so bad they had to be seen to be believed. I am a big fan of films and I am enough of a movie snob to have enjoyed movies like “Citizen Kane” and “Aguirre: Wrath of God” but what I love to find are those hidden movies. Those movies that often did not do well in theaters but gained a life of their own on video or on cable. These are hidden gems and I wanted to tell you about some of the ones I love.
The thing about some of these is that I love them for the same reason I hated some of those movies in the other article I wrote. The difference is often in the tone of the movie. Some of these movies are as incomprehensible as the movies I mentioned I hated. The thing is that the people in them seem to realize that and are having such a good time that it just comes off the screen.
Most of these movies you can find on DVD or on cable. I am willing to admit that these are movies that are not for everyone. Some of you may watch these and think they are the dumbest thing you have ever seen. I am willing to admit that these movies aren’t probably for everyone. I am just saying that, for whatever reason, they worked for me and I think you might enjoy them too.
1. The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai: Across the 8th Dimension – Peter Weller, Jeff Goldblum, John Lithgow, Christopher Lloyd and Ellen Barkin are just a few of the stars in this movie. This movie is so over-the-top goofy that you just get caught up in it. The movie was supposed to be the start of a movie franchise but it bombed at the box office and then the movie studio that made it went under. It took me forever to even sort of understand the plot. These days, when I watch it, it’s the little things that just crack me up. Watch how Christopher Lloyd’s character behaves in the background. Listen for the line, soft in the background, that says “We are not in the eight dimension, we are over New Jersey.” Look at the goofy signs in the background. There are parts of this movie that don’t work and the plot is ridiculous but never have so many people looked like they were having so much fun.
2. Fail-Safe – This movie suffered from the fact that it came out the same year as Stanley Kubrick’s “Dr. Strangelove” and that it is has a similar theme. But while the Kubrick film has a humorous bent this movie plays it very serious. Henry Fonda is brilliant as the President who has a hard decision to make when an accident sends a nuclear bomber wing into the Soviet Union. What holds this movie together, however, is the performance of a young Larry Hagman. Yes, Major Nelson and Jr. Ewing. His role as the translator is understated but powerful. He is the voice of the Kremlin. There is even brief cameo of a very young and very thin Dom DeLuise. The ending of this movie is still one of the most powerful you are likely to ever see. We may no longer have a Soviet Union or bomber wings to deal with but this movie is still powerful and will still make you think.
3. Shaun of the Dead – Shaun is a slacker who works a menial job and would rather stay home and play video games with his slacker friend. He and his friend would rather spend evenings at the same pub every night rather than doing things with their girlfriends (well, only Shaun has a girlfriend). Now throw zombies into this mix and you have one truly hilarious movie. The scene where hey throw records at zombies is hilarious. The scene were a mob beats a zombie with pool cues to the beat of a song by “Queen” is funny enough to make you rupture something. Billy Nighy shows he had a great sense of humor as a man who just wants some quiet. This movie is note-perfect in its hilarity. The jokes play perfectly and then some truly hideous gore is thrown in for good measure.
4. Searching for Bobby Fisher – This is one of the sweetest movies you are ever likely to see. It’s nice to see Joe Montegna playing a nice father rather than a gangster. Little Josh Waitskin may be the next chess prodigy but how can be become that and still be a little boy. This movie is one of those movies that when I find it on while flipping through channels I have to watch it. The performances are fantastic. Even the kids in this movie are great. This movie is a total treasure.
5. Whale Rider – Yes, sure this movie was adopted by the critics when it came out. It did pretty well as far as ticket sales are concerned. However, you should rediscover this movie. It tells the tale of a little girl who just my be the future of her Maori tribe. It’s a family movie that plays perfectly for adults too. Here’s another movie where the kids are perfect in their performances. If you haven’t seen it you need to and if it’s been a while since you have then you need to watch it again.
6. Unbreakable – for me this is the best M. Night movie. It’s an attempt to give some kind of ultra-realistic look at the idea of comic books and super heroes. Bruce Willis turns in one of his finest performances as a man who may be more than he appears. Even Samuel L. Jackson is good as “Mr. Glass” who may also be more than he appears. This one is the biggest gamble on the list and I know of at least one person who hates this movie with a passion. However, if you are like me and love comic books, I think you’ll love this take on the idea of super heroes in everyday life.
7. Eurotrip – I wanted to hate this movie. It was another mindless teen sex movie. It is another mindless teen sex movie. The thing is it’s a hilarious mindless teen sex movie. I watched this movie expecting it to end up on my list of movies to avoid and found myself laughing out loud throughout the entire movie. The Worst Twins Ever alone are worth seeing this. Plus some quality nude scenes are always a nice touch.
I am sure, like my other list, that there are more. Everyone has their favorites. Heck, I still love “The Last Boy Scout” even though that has to be the most ridiculous movie ever made. Again, I’d love to hear your suggestions.
Get that NetFlix queue updated and happy watching.
Bryan W. Alaspa’s new novel Dust is now available at his website www.bryanalaspa.com and http://www.amazon.com